How to make chicken tacos! Delicious seasoned, grilled chicken, combined with traditional taco toppings such as cilantro relish, pico de gallo, and cotija make for an amazing dinner. This chicken taco recipe makes you feel like you’re having street tacos at home.
Pair these chicken street tacos with my Mexican street corn and you’ll have the best Taco Tuesday yet!
When my kids were still little we went to Tijuana, Mexico. That was almost 20 years ago. I’ll never forget eating my first Mexican street tacos and I have loved them ever since. When I lived in Las Vegas it was easy to find authentic Mexican food, but it’s a little harder (though not impossible!) in the midwest.
RELATED: this recipe pairs well with a frosty Pina Colada
My love for Mexican food is no secret. It’s my all time favorite cuisine and I’m more than happy to have Mexican food over anything else. My kids are the same, tacos being their most requested dinner while growing up.
I recently found a recipe for chicken tacos on Lauren’s blog and I have to tell you, they were delicious! I love using chicken thighs because they don’t dry out like chicken breasts can. However, this recipe can be made with either thighs or breasts.
What to serve with your chicken tacos
If you were buying street tacos, you might not get any sides. The whole idea of a street tacos is that you can walk around with it. Carrying sides just doesn’t make sense. However, you’re making these at home, so here are a few ideas for side dishes that will pair well.
And don’t forget to mix up a fresh Margarita!
What kind of toppings are good for tacos?
I have a lot of favorite toppings for tacos, but cilantro relish is my top choice. When my kids were little they liked cheddar cheese with lettuce and tomatoes, but now that they’re grown it’s my homemade fresh tomato salsa.
Here are a few good topping ideas:
- Fresh tomato salsa or pico de gallo
- Cilantro relish (a combination of diced onion, lime juice, garlic, and cilantro)
- Restaurant style salsa
- Crumbled Cotija cheese, Chihuahua or Oaxaca Cheese, and Queso Fresco
- Sharp cheddar or Pepper Jack for American style
- Mango Salsa
- Pineapple Salsa
- Black beans or refried beans
- Shredded lettuce
- Chopped onions
- Sour cream
- Hot sauce
What you need to make these tacos
Here’s a list of the ingredients you need to make these amazing chicken tacos. Some recipes call for using shredded chicken, which is honestly not my favorite. I prefer chopped, grilled chicken.
- I use boneless skinless chicken thighs because they have a lot more flavor and don’t dry out the way that chicken breasts can.
- Look for mini white corn tortillas in your grocery store’s ethnic aisle. They may say “street tacos” on the package. You can also use yellow corn or flour tortillas.
- Serving your tacos with fresh lime wedges is totally optional, but a squeeze of lime juice adds great flavor.
- To make the marinade you will need orange juice. Fresh squeezed is always better, but bottled is totally fine too.
- This recipe calls for apple cider vinegar, I prefer the kind with “the mother”.
- You’ll need lime juice for the marinade too, but please don’t use bottled juice. It’s not fresh and contains a preservative known as sulfites that can cause headaches.
- I use fresh garlic cloves, but jarred minced garlic will work too. Just don’t use dried minced garlic.
- You can use ancho chili powder or chipotle chili powder, whichever you happen to have on hand. If you don’t have either, you can substitute with regular chili powder, but the flavor will be a little different.
- Everyone has dried oregano leaves in their herb arsenal! I actually grow my own in my herb garden, and dry it myself.
- Regular paprika is what’s called for in this recipe, but smoked paprika would add a wonderful flavor element!
- A small amount of ground cinnamon is needed but does not sweeten the marinade, which is a common misconception.
- And of course, you’ll need some salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Helpful Kitchen Tools
How to Make Chicken Tacos
- First you’ll need to marinate the chicken for a couple hours. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large ziplock bag. Add the boneless skinless chicken thighs the bag and zip it shut, squeezing all the air out. Gently massage the chicken through the bag then refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours.
- Preheat your grill pan or outdoor grill to medium-hight heat. Oil the grill with canola oil (wad up some paper towel, add some oil, and rub grates using tongs to hold the paper towel). Don’t be tempted to use olive oil as the smoking point isn’t as high as canola.
- Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade and gently dab off excess liquid with paper towel.
- Place the chicken on your hot grill and cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side, flipping once (thickest part of the chicken thigh should register about 165 degrees).
- Transfer chicken thighs to a cutting board and tent with foil. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before chopping into bite-sized pieces.
- Warm the tortillas in a skillet. You’ll have to do this in batches, placing the warmed tortillas on a plate and covering with foil to keep warm.
- Layer two warmed mini corn tortillas together and top with chopped chicken. Add your favorite toppings and serve with fresh lime wedges.
More Taco Recipes
I said it before, but I love tacos! I’ve posted quite a few taco recipes over the years. Here are a few recipe ideas for you:
- First, make sure you mix up my homemade taco seasoning. This replaces those grocery store taco seasoning packets and tastes so much better!
- If you’re a shrimp lover like I am, these shrimp tacos are just the ticket.
- I also have these amazing salmon tacos, perfect for a crowd!
- Great for Taco Tuesday, these oven tacos are a family fave.
- One of my favorites are fish tacos!
- And lastly for you steak lovers, be sure to try my carne asada tacos.
- If you’re feeling adventurous, you can make your own homemade low fat flour tortillas or flavored tortillas!
- And of course, steak soft tacos.
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- 1.5 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 20 mini white corn tortillas
- Fresh limes cut into wedges (2 wedges per person)
For the Marinade:
- 4 Tablespoon orange juice
- 2 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 Tablespoon lime juice
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 Tablespoon ancho chili powder or chipotle chili powder
- 2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Combine all marinade ingredients in a large ziplock bag.
- Add chicken thighs and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
- Preheat grill over medium-hight heat. Oil the grill with canola oil (wad up some paper towel, add some oil, and rub grates using tongs to hold the paper towel).
- Remove chicken from the marinade and gently dab off excess liquid with paper towel.
- Place chicken on hot grill.
- Cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side, flipping once (thickest part of the chicken thigh should register about 165 degrees).
- Transfer to a cutting board and tent with foil. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before chopping into bite-sized pieces.
- Warm tortillas in a skillet. Layer two warmed mini corn tortillas together.
- Top with chopped chicken and your choice of toppings. Serve with fresh lime wedges.
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